Back in March, during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL announced that CBS’s extra Wild Card playoff broadcast — part of the league’s expanded, 14-team postseason — would include a kids-themed telecast on Nickelodeon.
Now, with the 2020 season only three weeks away from the playoffs, CBS has released more details on that Nickelodeon Wild Card broadcast, scheduled for Jan. 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Noah Eagle will call play-by-play with Nate Burleson and Nickelodeon star Gabrielle Nevaeh Green joining him as analysts. Reporting for the telecast will be another star from the children’s network, Lex Lumpkin. (Both Green and Lumpkin can be seen on All That and Nickelodeon’s Unfiltered.)
As Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand explains, the Nickelodeon broadcast will also include slime dumps in the end zone (superimposed on the screen), close-ups of players filtered with googly eyes and other graphics, and animated re-enactments of plays from previous games. CBS provided a sample of what’s to come on Twitter:
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) December 15, 2020
Coverage for the Nickelodeon NFL Wild Card playoff broadcast will begin with The SpongeBob SportsPants Countdown Special, hosted by Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller. (Will he broadcast remotely from a pineapple under the sea or be on site for the Wild Card playoff game?)
The pregame special will compile SpongeBob’s best sports moments and also feature appearances from CBS’s Jim Nantz and Tony Romo, along with Eagle, Burleson, and Green. (Should we root for a segment with Romo explaining a play to Patrick Star? It could be like a kids version of those Corona Light hotline ads.)
And to take advantage of the promotional opportunity, the halftime show will feature a special sneak preview of Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years., looking back at 10-year-old SpongeBob’s experiences at summer camp. The series will first premiere on the Paramount+ streaming service before debuting on Nickelodeon.
“The NFL is very intent on reaching a younger audience, and we thought this would be a great way to do it,” CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus told The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch. “When we went in to give our pitch to the NFL, this was front and center in that pitch. They loved it right at the outset.”
This is certainly something that, say, ESPN isn’t offering when it breaks out the Megacast coverage for a big NFL or College Football Playoff game. Although Lee Corso would probably be up for getting slimed or having a Snapchat-type filter imposed on him. Joe Tessitore also seems ideally suited for a broadcast like this.
ESPN has produced kids-themed broadcasts for the past two Pro Bowls, televised on Disney XD. But those were simulcasts, not separate broadcasts with their own announcing teams and pregame shows. (The network has also flexed some corporate synergy with Marvel superhero-style openings to the Monday Night Football telecast.) Should we expect a halftime show hosted by The Mandalorian and Baby Yoda sometime this season or next?
Nickelodeon’s NFL Wild Card telecast will also be available for streaming through the NFL app. And kids can also check out NFLNickPlay.com to learn more about football basics with quizzes, polls, factoids, and videos.